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April

2018

Yet another variant of art work! This time I have dabbled in jewellery making! I've made bead necklaces and bracelets before but have re-visited the process. It is, in fact, very therapeutic!

 

Choosing beads, combining colours, arranging the sequence, is all very satisfying. The beads are laid out in a long row and when I'm satisfied with the 'look' I start threading them onto wire. Sometimes the result isn't exactly as I'd like so beads are removed, moved and added to. Getting the length right is also something of a challenge as the beads have to 'sit' nicely in a neckline.

 

If you hadn't gathered I do love beads! The colours and shapes are fascinating. and happily I'm not alone! Jewellery has been around for centuries even being found in grave-sites dating back to pre-historic times.

 

Initial adornments of the ancient world were made of bone, stones and shells with the discovery of how to work metal being an immensely important milestone into the art of jewellery.

Glass bead making has been around for thousands of years - 5000 in some estimates. Some of the earliest glass beads were made in Mesopotania in 2000 BC. Glass beads come in all sorts of shapes and sizes from the very tiny 'seeds' beads used for adorning all sorts of garments, to large intricate ones. One of the most famous bead making places is Murano in Venice where glass beads were first made after Marco Polo returned from his travels to Asia.

 

Bead weaving is also a huge art form with many intricate designs being woven using the tiny seed bead. Woven bead designs are used to adorn garments and some well known ones are those of African culture, and the North American indigenous peoples.

 

Jewellery is very personal and is often added to an outfit to give it that final 'complete' look. Some people like lots of adornments, some very little, but jewellery of all types is very popular throughout all cultures and since the existence of man when he learned how to thread items.

 

Finally I am adding a little bit of 'nature'. These two pictures are of a woodpecker. It is a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileus) which is Ontario’s largest woodpecker measuring up to 19" / 49cm in height! It is a rare to uncommon year-round resident.

 

Woodpecker pairs mate for life and remain together all year round in their territory. They have a brood of about 4 eggs and both male and female share nesting duties. The young leave the nest  in fall of the same year.

 

They cut distinctive rectangular holes in trees to gain access to insects, especially Carpenter ants.

 

The nest holes they make afford valuable shelter to many species including owls, bats, pine martens, and swifts.

 

They are very striking due to their plumage but also have a slow, deliberate flight

March

You might be wondering why there are photographs of a porcelain doll undergoing the various stages of dressing, on a 'art' website....But the creativity of anything visual is 'art'. Some of the clothes designers of bygone years, and even of today, create magnificent pieces of clothing which are truly 'works of art' (even if they aren't particularly wearable!!!).

 

Choosing the style, colour, colour co-ordination, and detail of the outfit is all part of being creative. We might paint to create an image, but as shown in February and previous months, pictures can be created from all sorts of materials. Creating outfits from fabric is also art in a wearable form.

 

When I look at pictures of fashion over the centuries, what we wear today is very plain and boring! The skill that went into creating some of the dresses and suits that our ancestors used to wear (and not that long ago really if you think of early 1900's fashion) was immense. It must have been great  fun to have yards of fabric, ribbon, lace, braiding etc., and just set about to dress a lady or gentleman in some amazing creation! Even everyday wear had style and detail. Men were just as particular as woman and their fashion was far from boring.

 

Jeans and t-shirt may be practical but think of what else we could be putting on when we dress every morning!!

More years ago than I care to remember I went on a porcelain doll making course. The instructor had cast and fired the body parts (in this case - head, shoulder plate, arms and legs from the knee downwards.)

 

We had to sand off any imperfections and 'seams' from the moulds, and then paint the face. The later was incredibly hard!! We had to paint individual hairs for the eyebrows, apply just enough blush to the cheeks to give a wash of colour without leaving obvious 'circles' and then paint the detail and colour of the lips. Light washes were put on other pieces to create a more realistic colour. Once we were satisfied with our colour additions the doll parts all went back into the kiln for another firing to 'set' the colours.

 

It was fun choosing eyelashes, the colour of the eyes and the wig. So much choice! Setting the eyes was also a challenge as you had to make sure that they didn't stare unrealistically or be unfortunately crossed. Once the glue had set no alteration could be made so they had to be right before it hardened!

 

We then constructed a cloth body and upper legs. The lower legs were attached to the clothe 'thighs' and then we filled the body with stuffing and minute glass beads which added weight.

 

Once my course was finished I had the lovely doll to dress. She has waited very patiently for years to finally be clothed!! I have used antique lace for the edges of her pantaloons, petticoat and underskirt.

The 'buttons' are small beads and I made loops of thread, which were then carefully hand stitched, to enable the back to be fastened shut.

 

Her shoes are made of felt and embellished with beads.

 

Every part of her outfit is removable. It's just as well that her waist is so tiny as each layer added more 'bulk' - no wonder our ancestors wore corsets to make a tiny waist!

I couldn't resist adding in these last two pictures of one of our Maine Coon cats. He insisted on going outside and was not impressed by the snow....Very quickly he demanded to return to the house where upon he settled in front of the fire. Certainly was a happy cat then!!

February

In January I said that I wanted to get on with various projects and in particular my Pen & Ink book, however that hasn't progressed any further...I hasten to add that this is for a very good reasons! First I was asked to do a Pen & Ink drawing as a special gift for someone so that was really exciting to do. And then I discovered needle felting.....

 

As a child growing up we frequently used felt to make such things as animals, appliquéd pictures, flowers etc., Felt is an incredibly versatile fabric and one of it's best features is the fact it doesn't fray. At some later point I will add some photographs of the various animals I have made.

 

However, 'needle-felting' is different. (I just LOVE trying something new!!) I have had a go at needle-felting an animal some years ago; then I was introduced to needle felting on a flat surface. Suddenly a whole new art form developed!

 

The picture shows a special 'sponge' base that you need underneath your work. Next is a piece of shop-bought felt with a felting needle on top. The felting needle has special barbs that fastens the wool to the base. It has to be a wool base. The coloured wool is from a local lady that rears her own sheep.

 

You can make your own sheet of felt by laying the wool in strips and then adding water. It is simple but time consuming. Hand-made felt has a lovely texture and the colours can be very personal. For my purposes, however, some good quality shop bought felt is sufficient.

 

My first foray into the art of needle felting an image was for Valentines Day. Rather than draw a card for my husband I thought it'd be more fun to have something more lasting so I designed the little mouse within a heart shape (pictured below) It is slightly bigger than a drinks-coaster and can be used as one. I finished the design with a mixture of machine and hand embroidery.

 

My next project was the mouse surrounded by a ring of roses. I wanted to experiment with machine embroidery to get the leaves and blooms. The edges are finished off with over stitching.

 

Then my last 'experiment' was a picture. I took small strands of the sheep wool and laid small areas a bit at a time until I had the semblance of a country scene. In needle-felting you repeatedly 'stab' (for want of a better word) the sheep wool into the felt sheet backing. Constantly putting the needle through the sheep wool binds it to the base fabric. Once done, water can be applied which helps to further bind the sheep wool to the base. There are lots of articles that explain this process much better.

This basic needle-felted piece then inspired me to get more creative by adding the detail using my sewing machine. I still think my sewing machine is new but its now nearly 20 years old!

 

I have a good selection of embroidery threads so I set to and started playing. It is GREAT fun to 'play' and just watch what develops before your eyes!!

 

For my first effort I have to admit to being very pleased! It has given me great incentive to carry on and do more. I found needle felting in this way is like painting with coloured wool, and I now have lots of ideas slowly formulating in my imagination......

"Valentine Mouse' - my first needle-felted 'picture'.

January

It is always exciting to start the new Year with plans of projects that I would like to get started (and finished!!) during the year.

 

One of my plans this year is to finalise my cartoon book......It was supposed to be finished last year but life has this habit of adding extra things into the day that weren't planned for so my 'goal' wasn't achieved. I think I said I wanted to get the book completed by the end of the year but .....I didn't say which year!!

 

Below are the first and last pages of the book and I will add additional ones as I go along. Previous months have shown the Snail Racing series which is nearly complete; I'm debating if it needs one last drawing to finalise that particular 'story'. It's quite a challenge working out how many drawings will be sufficient to make a book interesting enough.

 

The book is called, "Life is a Piece of Cheese".

My other main project this year is to finish my Dolls House. It needs decorating, furnishing and a family moving in. I have all the furniture and food to make and the porcelain dolls to assemble and dress. I already have things like saucepans, crockery and plants. It's a matter of putting it all together to create something special.

 

I made a baby doll a number of years ago and am in the process of making her gown. In the meantime I have knitted several outfits and blankets. I love the challenge of miniature work though dropping stitches whilst knitting can be a frustrating challenge!!

 

(I've put a 2 Dollar coin in the photo in order to help understand the scale of the knitting and doll.)

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